Hugo Chávez, the Venezuelan hater of America, shaking hands with the American President? Cuban President Raúl Castro and Barack Obama exchanging words of hope for a new future relationship? The Russian and American Presidents agreeing on the danger of nuclear proliferation and vowing to work together to move in a new direction? Dare we hope?
Yeah, but then there’s North Korea testing both nukes and missiles – reopening its processing plant for fissionable material – nuclear-menace-wannabe Iran sentencing a young Iranian-American journalist to 8 years in prison for purported espionage, the Taliban capitalizing on long-standing hatred of mega-landowners in the Pakistani province of Swat, where the government has actually allowed them to substitute Islamic law for Pakistani statutes… resulting in a populist uprising that threatens the whole of Pakistan. OK, Pakistani forces have begun taking the land back, but can they contain the fundamentalism they have already validated? Word is leaking out of Israeli plans, supported by the new hardliner government, to take out Iranian nuclear processing facilities with surgical air strikes. I’m not even going into the Afghan or Iraqi wars, the Somali pirates or all those other problems on earth.
Every country on earth, every person in the world, sees the rest of the earth from their unique perspective. They often believe what they have been told, what they see through their filtration of the news (just as we get filtered), often follow their leaders’ admonitions and adhere as passionately to their faith as the most fundamental Americans hold on to theirs. When it took time to travel around the world, distance protected the status quo. Guns changed the New World almost as rapidly as the diseases the Western World brought raged through the indigenous peoples who looked on in “shock and awe.”
Global trade and instantaneous communications through cables and satellites have shoved us together uncomfortably. Economic interdependence governs our every moment. The cries of “over there!” during World War I sound strange when we realize how truly close we really are now. This is a global financial meltdown that may have begun in the U.S., but exposed weakness throughout the heavily-linked world economy. Still, “others” blame “the American system” they had chosen to follow.
Which brings me back to that “filtration” system that all news services, all governments and all religions – to one degree or another – apply to their constituents. How are we ever going to understand how to make this planet remotely “get along” when none of us sees it the same way, and so many of us believe that our perception and our rules are right, and everyone else’s are wrong – or, in a more tolerant light, okay for them, but not for us? Should Texas really secede… hey they’re serious (some of them)? Should militias gird for the “inevitable racial war”?
So here’s a preliminary play that you might find amusing. Better if you are fluent in other languages, but go online and check out the news stories originating from other countries (Canada, Ireland, UK, Australia, New Zealand, India, Pakistan, the Philippines, Hong Kong, Singapore, if you need English)… the same ones you just read in the Boston Globe or the Los Angeles Times. If you’ve read the Bible, try reading the Koran. Use your search engine and begin digging into the variety of perspectives that are open to “an inquiring mind.” We’ve gotta start somewhere.
I’m Peter Dekom, and I approve this message.